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Published On June 13, 2017

POLICY

When Industry Funds the Advocates

Patient advocacy groups play a role in the approval of drugs. Should their donors come under scrutiny?

Patient advocacy organizations, or PAOs, advocate for those who suffer from a particular disease or condition. They play an increasingly important role both in shaping health policy and in the approval and regulation of prescription drugs and medical devices. 

But many PAOs receive financial support from the companies that manufacture these products—raising the spectre of conflicts of interest. A report in the New England Journal of Medicine published this March noted that 83% of the 104 large PAOs in the United States receive financial support from drug, device and biotechnology companies. Another study, published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings in 2016, found that 75% of the PAOs for cancer, as listed by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, have approximately seven biopharmaceutical sponsors. 

Here are other key numbers behind industry-funded advocacy.

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